Message to environmentalists: ‘Humankind needs energy!’

By Mischa Popoff on July 22, 2010

Humankind needs energy; always has, always will. 

The emails from East Anglia University revealed that global-warming data were all fudged – plain and simple. This led to the collapse of a global-warming industry that had sprung up after the signing of the Kyoto Protocol. But die-hard environmentalists were never bothered by not having a leg to stand on. Not only do they still want us to quit driving our cars, they want us to quit taking flights.

Environmentalists are fighting as hard to curtail commercial flights as they fought to kill the car. This will save the planet, they claim. They want us to start flying less than once every two years. The airline industry responds by saying it promises to be carbon neutral (zero emissions) by 2050.

I’m having a hard time figuring out who’s the bigger liar in all of this: the environmentalists who say CO2 is bad, or the cowardly airlines that pretend there’s a way to get 975,000 pounds off the ground without emitting any CO2.

global_warming.jpgRichard Branson, the flamboyant and somewhat whacky owner of Virgin Airlines, has tried various biodiesel sources including, believe it or not, coconut, with no success. Emissions stay the same and the costs are always higher, thus requiring government subsidy, which even pro-environmental European governments are unwilling to provide.

 Environmentalist George Monbiot (author of Heat, How to Stop the Planet From Burning) says Branson is just grandstanding, that there is no alternative energy on the drawing board that can save the airline industry, not even algae fuel which Monbiot says will only work if it’s heavily subsidized and which will still have a significant CO2 footprint, just like ethanol and biodiesel do.

Then there’s the U.K. environmental group called Plane Stupid whose motto is “Bringing the aviation industry back down to earth!” Their strategy is to attack airport expansions, create human traffic jams on the ground and thereby suppress people’s desire to fly. In response, the airline industry spends billions on public relations campaigns – which of course all gets worked into ticket prices − to assure us they’re working with local communities to make sure airport expansions are fair and inclusive.

Yeesh! Give me a break.

Like farmers, the airlines are dependent on diesel. And, like farmers, they have no reason to apologize for helping humankind by burning diesel, an abundant, cheap and safe energy source. Instead of lying about becoming carbon neutral in the far-off future when most of us will be dead, the airline industry should stand up and say proudly: Yes, we release tons of CO2 into the atmosphere! Fortunately for us, and for anyone who flies, CO2 isn’t pollution. It’s ‘oxygen’ for plants. Case closed.

Mammals breathe oxygen and emit CO2; plants breathe CO2 and emit oxygen. It’s called symbiosis: you can’t have one without the other.

All the CO2 trapped in the earth’s fossil-fuel reserves came from the earth’s atmosphere after plants released it. It’s perfectly natural. Sequestering carbon, or going “carbon neutral,” is planetary suicide. More CO2 means more plants which means more nature and more food. That’s why greenhouses use CO2 emitters to boost production. The airline industry does this for the whole planet, along with farmers and anyone who drives a car.

Those who want to starve the planet for the alleged good of the planet should start by starving themselves. Whether they expect us to literally starve by curtailing food production, or whether they just want to “starve” the airline and automobile industries, they stand in the way of humankind.

Carbon taxation or cap-and-trade makes us less efficient as a civilization. It’s a tax on a boogeyman and nothing more. CO2 emission is not only the engine of a modern economy; it’s also the engine of the planet. It’s time for the airlines to get a backbone and for environmentalists to stop fear-mongering.


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